By Ana Martinez-Ortiz
The time has come for all eligible citizen to register to vote. Earlier this week, was National Voter Registration Day. Held every year on the fourth Tuesday in September, the day serves a duo purpose: to register people to vote and to get them to vote.
To kick-off the week, Mayor Tom Barrett took to the mic at the Midtown Center Early Voting location to share a few words on the importance of voting.
“Registration is important,” he said. “We are here today to encourage everyone who is eligible to vote to open the doors for their civil rights to be exercised by registering to vote.”
Registering to vote is easy to do and can be done online, in the mail or in person, he said. The only thing people need to register is their photo ID. The earlier they register the simpler election day becomes.
“We are trying to make this more user-friendly because we want people to exercise their constitutional right to vote,” Barrett said.
As he spoke, people were encouraged to come in and utilize the early voting booths. Early voting allows people to vote when it’s convenient for them, he said.
Early voting became popular around a dozen years ago, Barrett said. At the time there was only one location available for early voters. The lack of space caused long lines as people waited for their turn.
Eventually, the government agreed that municipalities could have multiple sites and currently there are eight.
“You can go to Pick n’ Save get some junk food, you can come to Planet Fitness [and] exercise it all off and then come to vote,” Barrett said regarding the Midtown Center location.
As of Monday, there are currently three early voting locations open including the Zeidler Municipal Building, the Midtown Center and Mitchell Street Library. Come Oct. 15, the remaining locations will open and voting hours will expand and include the occasional weekend.
“The whole goal here is to recognize our democracy works best when people get involved,” Barrett said. “And we want people to exercise their right to vote.”
Voting is the ultimate participatory sport, he said. Democracy is for the people by the people. When people vote it’s better for the community, state and country because they’re using their voices to let the government know what they want.
Neil Albrecht, executive director of the Election Commission in the City of Milwaukee, explained that between the 2012 Presidential Election and 2016 one, the city lost 41,000 voters. Voter registration played a role for some but so did the new photo ID law, Albrecht said. One way to be better prepared for the Nov. 6 election is to register to vote, he said.
People can go to myvote.wi.gov to register, Albrecht said. They can also view their districts ballot and inform themselves on the candidates. As for the photo ID, Albrecht said people can go to the DMV and apply for a state ID or driver’s license. Even if the application gets denied, people can request a receipt as proof that they tried to obtain a photo ID. People can use that receipt for the photo ID requirement, Albrecht said.
“It’s a great day to vote early,” said Alderman Cavalier Johnson of the second district.
The most important office in America is the role of citizens, Johnson said. That is true in Milwaukee. People need to register and people need to vote, he said.
To register to vote visit myvote.wi.gov or visit one of the early voting sites.